Stimulus is a word often used in biology. It is something that causes a reaction in an organ or cell, for example. In financial and economic contexts, a stimulus may be an incentive (the money you spend on your membership is a stimulus for utilizing the gym). Definition: any stimulating information or event; acts to arouse action.

Consider this scenario. It is another uneventful Monday. You’re going through the motions of work…checking emails, scrolling social media, grabbing a quick bite to eat in between meetings. When you’re driving home, you realize you have a jingle in your head, on repeat, that is playing in the back of your subconscious. Suddenly it feels like you’ve had this song stuck in your head for hours as if background elevator music. Where did you hear this song and why is it now stuck in your head? This is how good jingles work…they get in your head and won’t leave. A jingle is defined as a radio or TV advertising mechanism designed to create a memorial impression. They can be original works created for a product or service and are designed to help consumers remember certain bits of information. This jingle can be a slogan, phone number, radio or TV station, a law firm’s name…the possibilities are endless so long as it catches and sparks the stimulus.

The Wheaties Challenge

According to research, jingles were born when the radio was introduced in the early 1920s. Legend has it that the commercial jingle as we know it was introduced on Christmas Eve 1926. An a cappella group called the Wheaties Quartet (formed by an undertaker, a court bailiff, a printer, and a businessman) crooned a jingle asking consumers melodically “Have you tried Wheaties?”. Each week for three years, the quartet sang the jingle live, because, at that time, recording equipment hadn’t yet been created. While sales for Wheaties seemed dismal nationwide, General Mills soon realized that 60% of its sales were in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region…the only place where the Wheaties jingle was consistently broadcast. Subsequently, a nationwide campaign was launched and Wheaties sales went through the roof.

The Wheaties Quartet

blog.generalmills.com

When you think of catchy jingles, both modern and past, what comes to mind? Personally, the Liberty Mutual jingle is on constant repeat in my head and I’m not even a customer. The top 10 jingles of all time are said to be:

  • McDonald’s ‘I’m Lovin’ It”
  • Kit Kat “Give Me a Break”
  • Oscar Mayer “I Wish I was an Oscar Mayer Weiner”
  • Subway “Five Dollar Foot Long”
  • Empire “800 Number”
  • State Farm “Like a Good Neighbor”
  • Lucky Charms “They’re Magically Delicious”
  • Huggies “I’m a Big Kid Now”
  • Alka Seltzer “Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz”
  • Band Aid “Stuck on Band-Aid”

You can hear them all as you read them, right?

Jingles are everywhere and they’re not just playing through our TVs, radios, and media streamers. Your appliances are now playing jingles to let you know that your load of wash is done, the dishes are clean, and the refrigerator needs restocking. Have you ever stopped to consider the tunes that your home appliances play? On the surface level, you may think that the jingles are simply an alert, but like any good catchy tune, there’s a lot that goes into it.

Sonic Branding

This ad industry piece on sonic branding explains “Samsung and LG want to associate a happier brand emotion with the onerous task of doing laundry by offering a “victory” song when the washing and drying are complete…What better way to say, “now that wasn’t so bad, was it?” than by playing light, slightly anonymous traditional tunes that would stick in your brain each time you finished your chores?”

Samsung’s washing machines play an 18th-century German folk song titled ‘Die Forelle’ (The Trout)  composed by classical pianist Schubert. This song is also known as Piano Quintet in A Major. LG’s products play an English folk tune called “The Lincolnshire Poacher”. Little research is available as to the reasoning behind why these exact songs were chosen for the brands. According to Shane Higby, vice president of home appliance product marketing at Samsung, the jingles theoretically build customer allegiance.

“Appliance manufacturers view sonic branding as a low-cost investment that inspires loyalty, even at the risk of irritation”. – Shane Higby

These sounds, he believes, can convey certain attributes of a machine, including sturdiness, fun, and elegance.

gap intelligence tracks thousands of specifications for any given product category, and for major appliances, this is as detailed as product dimensions, weight when shipped, debut date, and how quiet (or noise) a product is based on its dba rating. What’s next…perhaps a product’s given jingle or programmed song?